How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

What skills to learn, what tools to get
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jacob
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How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by jacob » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:23 pm

Over the years we've had several threads on how and where to start when it comes to woodworking. I even started one myself back in the days. I recently finished reading: https://www.amazon.com/Minimalist-Woodw ... 1940611350 and I want to highlight it because he lists almost exactly the kind of handworking tools I eventually ended up with.

Note, this is a handworking/neanderthal book. Although powertools are nice, the beauty of handworking tools is that they don't create much in terms of dust and noise. They're also light. You can therefore use them in apartments, etc. Also, they don't "break". One of the tools I use is a ripsaw that's about a century old. People who just wanna get'er'done and don't mind hauling a few hundred pounds around should check out http://ana-white.com .. because you want a table saw, a compound miter saw, a cordless drill, and a kreg joint setup. You can then put square stuff (all furniture, except chairs, is square stuff) really fast.

Back to my point: He recommends almost the same tool collection that I arrived at organically through lots of hem/haw deliberation. I have more planes and I don't like combination squares, but this is definitely not a bad start.

It also includes basic techniques like mortise and tenon and dovetailing. The techniques I settled on are different and they work better for me. I prefer to chisel my dove tails out from the end rather than use a fret saw and do in from the top. I also make my pins first. I also suggest getting a dedicated set of mortising chisels and setting the gauge after the chisel size. I do think that the author might not realize the level of skill required to make his projects look good if a beginner wanted to have a go at it.

The projects in the book are excellent/useful.

I finally made a new mallet (picture on facebook). I changed up his plans a bit, but otherwise followed the main idea/design. (Therein lies the benefit of having some intermediate skills.)

I also made his saw bench.

After spending many an hour contemplating my first real woodworking bench, I've decide to make his Nicholson design. I'll install a Nicholson type vise on the side using a $13 Bessey pipe clamp. I have a real Jorgenson I bought too many years ago (when my reach exceed my grasp by far) and hopefully I can put that in as an end-vise---just because I have it.

Overall, I highly recommend this book in the sense that I wish I had read it when I first started out.

PS: I was pleased to see a workmate bench in his shop. That's the bench I started out with and still use as well. It's shite for planing, but otherwise a genius contraption. He's a harder worked than I am .. having replaced his bench top with pine boards already. In my defense, I have had to fix one "screw" using a piece of metal for used sawblade as a backing piece .. Also, the legs have caved out on me a few times, but the pins can be hammered back in. For your first bench, I highly recommend a workmate. If you feel like bootstrapping from absolutely nothing, one of the Roy Underhill books solves that problem, IIRC. I forget which one.

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by jacob » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:48 pm


Lucky C
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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by Lucky C » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:13 pm

Funny coincidence, I just visited ana-white.com for the first time today before seeing this post. Looking to make some easy outdoor furniture with some leftover pressure treated wood.

I recommend The Woodwright's Shop for some quality minimalist woodworking ideas in video form.
http://www.pbs.org/woodwrightsshop/watc ... -episodes/

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by jacob » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:46 pm

Roy Underhill (The Woodwright's Shop as seen on PBS) is my go-to source for woodworking at the "pine-level"... Aka framing/softwood/SPH-HF. He has the advantage of using southern pine. Northern SPH is kinda bad so you need low-angle planes to work it. It's what I use. Fancier neanderthals use hardwoods. It's nice, but it's $$$. I made my mallet out of red oak. Google Chris Schwarz if you want to go that way.

Basically pine et al. what the middle/under class used to use for furniture, etc. It's easy to work but requires a lot of skill in order to make it look good. That's why people used to paint it. After that it looks nice.

Today, consumers tend to use veneer on top of MDF (aka a certain Scandinavian brand). It's 100% pretense to the max. It looks fantastic for a couple of years. Then it looks shite but that's okay as long as consumers replace it :-P

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by Campitor » Wed Jun 06, 2018 8:12 pm

I liked The Unplugged Woodshop book. The author also has a youtube channel and plays his own music on his episodes; I like his skill with wood and hand tools but not the guitar/singing. I started woodworking/carpentry when I was young as a consequence of working summers with master carpenters and other tradesman. I grew up in a blue collar neighborhood with tons of plumbers, electricians, and carpenters and they all were eager to higher a young kid who worked hard.

I own all sorts of power tools but I've gravitated to working with hand tools as often as possible for the reasons described by Jacob: more quiet and less dust. And I get extreme satisfaction building something nice using tools that require skill instead of depending on straightedges and precision squares and fences. I was a fan of western handsaws until I purchased a japanese ryoba.

Cutting on the pull stroke and the narrow kerf is just awesome. And the polish on the blade means I can use the mirror like reflection to make a square cut. Western saws cut on the push stroke so they are thicker which means a thicker kerf which means more energy spent sawing. I still use western saws but I prefer the japanese saw. I may change my mind if I get my hands on a Bad Axe saw but I'm not willing to fork out $200 to purchase one.

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by FBeyer » Thu Jun 07, 2018 2:31 am

I have no recommendations whatsoever with regard to woodworking, that's hardly what carpenters do around here anymore.

However! Japanese saws: get one. It's very hard to straighten a cut once you've started it, but on the other hand it's very easy to maintain the cut line once your learn how to start right, so a Japanese saw actually teaches you the very basics of everything: Start Right!

I can't tell if they cut faster or easier, but they are so easy to make nice multi-angled cuts with that I'm afraid I won't ever get back to a Western saw, unless I really have to.

You can also lay a Japanese saw flat on its side and cut pins flush with any surface without scratching the surface (as long as the saw is maintained well). That shit's cash yo!

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by jacob » Thu Jun 07, 2018 7:23 am

But can you sharpen it yourself?

PS: I spotted a Bad Axe saw in one of the pics in the OP book as well.

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by prognastat » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:57 am

It seems the answer is mixed.

Many say it is too hard to sharpen japanese saw blades, but then others say it is doable:
http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to- ... anese-Saw/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05TIUXaeCHM
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xXhItCJQqw

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by cheese » Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:57 am

My experience with carpentry/woodworking begins and ends with assembling furniture from the aforementioned "certain Scandinavian brand" (if that even counts). That said, it is something I've considered experimenting with previously but always shied away from due to the supposedly high costs (time/money/space) of tool and material acquisition/storage. I guess it is time to reconsider... thank you everyone for the recommendations/discussion!

Speaking of ryoba, for some potential wood joinery ideas on future projects I'd recommend searching YouTube for a series called "Joint Venture" (ha). Many of the joints don't seem very practical from an admittedly layman's point of view but there is something elegant about them. There is also a related series of videos for building things without glue/screws (save money!). The videos also have a soothing/meditative quality to them which is maybe the best part.

Playlist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmQ1m-S ... cg1u_kl4-j

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by prognastat » Thu Jun 07, 2018 4:01 pm

cheese wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 10:57 am
My experience with carpentry/woodworking begins and ends with assembling furniture from the aforementioned "certain Scandinavian brand" (if that even counts). That said, it is something I've considered experimenting with previously but always shied away from due to the supposedly high costs (time/money/space) of tool and material acquisition/storage. I guess it is time to reconsider... thank you everyone for the recommendations/discussion!
That's pretty much the situation I've been in. I love watching people do woodwork and am intrigued, yet also concerned about the time, money and space requirement. I also have trouble determining what are Cheap tools, which are overpriced and which are good value(quality at a low/good price).

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by jacob » Fri Jun 08, 2018 8:37 am

@cheese - The preferred joinery depends somewhat on the tools used. It's pretty tricky to make a (half) lap joint with hand tools whereas it's the easiest one to make with a table saw short of a pocket hole joint. Many of the fancier joints were invented at a time when wood glues (hide glue) were both weak and didn't last long (only several years ... whereas the furniture was intended to last decades). Thus the joints (like a mortise and tenon or a dovetail) are really what's holding the furniture together and the hide glue only holds the joint together. In principle you wouldn't need glue insofar your joints are really really good(+). Whereas modern glue is really really good and often stronger than the wood itself. Therefore modern furniture is often held together by glue alone (*). Even something like MDF is essentially glue and sawdust pressed together.

(*) A butt joint or a lap joint hardly even deserves to be called a joint IMHO.

(+) Another way to hold them together without glue is to use a (draw) peg.

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by ffj » Fri Jun 08, 2018 9:46 am

Here's a good starter channel. ;)

God bless southern girls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksC7h3qEDJs

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by vexed87 » Fri Jun 08, 2018 10:59 am

Another excellent channel here and no electric tools in sight:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCc3EpW ... 0QhwUNQb7w

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Re: How to get started in woodworking (book recommendation)

Post by Campitor » Fri Jun 08, 2018 7:10 pm

Japanese joinery is pretty crazy - takes precision and many joint require zero nails - many are dovetailed or wedged which means zero glue too. But the skill required is something else.

Dorian Bracht channel - good vids on how to make japanese joinery: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRGV5Y ... -8A/videos

And here is a timber framing channel - this guy seems to be able to build just about anything with hand tools: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHkYrJ ... jEZvkFzi3A

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